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Obituary: Muhammad Abdal Rahman Barker (1929-2012)

March 29, 2012 by  


Scholar of Urdu and South Asian Studies Passes away.

barkerMuhammad Abd-al-Rahman Barker  former chair of the Department of South Asian Studies at the University of Minnesota from 1972-1982, passed away on Friday, March 16th, 2012 in Minneapolis.
He won a Fulbright fellowship to study in India in 1951 where he learned Urdu and also accepted the Islamic faith. He later was a graduate student at U.C. Berkeley where he wrote a dissertation on the Klamath language of the American-Indian tribe of the same name.

Between 1958 and 1972 he taught at McGill University’s Institute of Islamic Studies. From 1972 to 1990 he was a member of the faculty of  the erstwhile Department of South Asian Languages and Literature.

Among his publications were four items from the McGill Institute:

A Course in Urdu (1967)
An Urdu Newspaper Reader (1968)
A Reader of Modern Urdu Poetry (1968)
A Course in Baluchi (1969)

Through much of his career he was interested in ‘world-creation’ and gaming or role-playing exercises, creating the Empire of the Petal  Throne (Tekumel) in which he employed his knowledge of ethnography, mythology and linguistics. He also wrote five novels set in his created world of Tekumel.

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